Monday, October 31, 2022

#AuthorInterview with James Maendel, co-author of Factor Investing For Dummies

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Ellen Feld is talking with James Maendel, co-author of Factor Investing For Dummies.

FQ: Tell our readers a little about yourself. Your background, your interests, and how this led to writing a book?

MAENDEL: As a financial advisor over the last two decades I've learned that, more than any other factor, it is a person's behavior that determines their ability to grow wealth and financial independence. Most investors are caught somewhere between wanting to "beat the market" and hiding their money in low-return "safe" places like savings accounts and bond funds and worse, flip flopping objectives depending on economic conditions. It's a well-documented problem where the majority of the investing public buys high and panic sells low, and over time they vastly underperform even low rated mutual funds. Incidentally, this is why I chose BFA (Behavioral Financial Advisor) as the credential to appear after my name on the cover. I hold many professional designations and licenses, but I believe this is the most important and represents perhaps the biggest breakthrough in financial theory in my lifetime. Financial planning was a big advance 20 or 25 years ago. Behavioral financial advice is at least as big. It is that revolutionary.

FQ: Have you always enjoyed writing or is it something you’ve discovered recently?

MAENDEL: I've contributed to several books in the past including a chapter in The Corporate Executives Guide to General Investing (Business Expert Press March 18/2022) published earlier this year, but I've never taken on a full book. My co-author Paul Mladjenovic who's been a friend for many years, encouraged me to see that I have a unique viewpoint to contribute. He was a fantastic mentor.

FQ: Tell us a little about your book – a brief synopsis and what makes your book unique.

MAENDEL: Most books on personal investing focus on market timing or individual stock and bond selection in order to try to maximize performance. Factor Investing For Dummies is a different approach that applies a mix of historically proven metrics to a diversified portfolio of stocks that academic research has shown to outperform over time in a robust set of market conditions, decades and even in the markets of different countries. In short, it's designed to help save you and your financial advisor time, fees, taxes (by minimizing portfolio turnover), grief and sleepless nights, while helping you reach your retirement and financial independence goals more reliably using proven methodologies.

FQ: What was the impetus for writing your book?

Author James Maendel

MAENDEL: I've built a large network of investment advisors, professional investors and investing aficionados as an investment advisor. In our conversations investor behavior is a recurring theme. I wanted to explore a methodology for investors to use when working with their advisors or (if they have the time and inclination) by themselves that could best combine the impetus to outperform or "beat the market" without having to engage in what's called "market timing" which can often leave an investor who's hiding in cash behind as the market rallies. We're seeing this yet again right now in October of 2022.

FQ: Please give our readers a little insight into your writing process. Do you set aside a certain time each day to write, only write when the desire to write surfaces, or ?

MAENDEL: I've really enjoyed the writing process and am somewhat surprised at how much I miss it now that the book is finished!

I'm a big fan of setting 2-4 hours aside daily, regardless of whether the muses are inspiring you or not. Even though I'm writing technical books, the process is the same and writer's block is very real. I set aside the time and if I get stuck, I doodle, bounce ideas off a friend or do whatever I have to in order to start writing again.

FQ: The genre of your book is Self Help and Personal Growth. Why this genre?

MAENDEL: Self Help and Personal Growth is my genre, of which investing is just a component. Ultimately I want to help people live richer, more fulfilling lives by putting proven systems in place that can save time and yet are robust and flexible enough to handle whatever life throws at them.

I love the phase "simplicity is the ultimate sophistication", and this applies especially to the complex and jargon-filled world of finance where everyone is selling something and most actually have an interest in making things sound more complicated so that you don't understand it and are forced to rely on (and pay) them.

Condensing financial concepts into simple, readable paragraphs is a huge challenge and something I enjoy. It ultimately helps me to better connect with the clients I meet on a daily basis.

FQ: Do you have any plans to try writing a book in a different genre? If so, which genre and why?

MAENDEL: I've always admired polymaths and the "renaissance mind" holistic and interconnected approach to life of individuals whose knowledge spans a wide number of subjects, able to draw on complex bodies of knowledge to solve specific problems and understand life. I was inspired by an old book called the The Pinball Effect (by James Burke) which shows that the factors that lead to discoveries and inventions are so interconnected, unpredictable and often accidental that their history is more like the path of a pinball caroming about its table than a linear chain of events. The book, for instance, owes its existence to German jeweler Johannes Gutenberg's getting the date wrong one day in the fifteenth century. I'd like to write something similar exploring the interconnectedness between financial, insurance, investing, economic growth, wealth building and personal fulfillment concepts.

FQ: Who are your favorite authors?

MAENDEL: My favorite financial genre authors are right on my bookshelf. They include Edward Chancellor (Devil Take the Hindmost) who writes about financial bubbles and the psychology of crowds, Jason Zweig (Your Money and Your Brain) exploring how your amygdala and cave person brain hurts you while trying to "save" you when it comes to modern life and investing, Kent Nerburn who wrote Letters to My Son exploring what makes a meaningful life, and Jim Roger's Investment Biker-a former hedge fund manager who rode his motor bike not once but twice around the world observing globalism, capital flows, poverty and the folks that actually make things first hand.

As an author/writer, what famous author (living or dead), would you like to have dinner with, and why?

MAENDEL: The famous novelist Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. Not only could I practice my 3rd year college level Russian on him, but I'd love to hear his analysis of what's going on in the increasingly totalitarian West right now, and the future of human freedom (If I could get him to endorse my book, that would be priceless:)

FQ: Did your family & friends encourage you to write your book?

MAENDEL: Yes, my wife and family, and the editorial staff were incredibly supportive during the process and gave some constructive advice I didn't necessarily want to hear at the time, but it made the book much better. I love that my kids have seen the entire book writing process first hand. They realize there is system to it and that it can be broken down into manageable chunks. They are now inspired to write books of their own!

#BookReview - Do Nothing: A Griffin Knight Murder Mystery Thriller

Do Nothing: A Griffin Knight Murder Mystery Thriller

By: Miguel Angel Hernandez Jr.
Publisher: Soaring High Publishing
Publication Date: September 6, 2022
ISBN: 978-1-959354-00-0
Reviewed by: Lily Andrews
Review Date: October 30, 2022
Do Nothing by Miguel Angel Hernandez Jr. revolves around Griffin Knight, an experienced homicide detective who is called up to lead an investigation into the death of twenty-seven-year-old district attorney Natalie Rosalie Costa, who was brutally murdered in her penthouse in Manhattan. He expects to find the missing link between this murder and other similarly executed past murders.
Knight's investigation points to a serial killer called The Judge, whose case file had been closed seven years before Costa’s chilling death. It is clear to Knight that a lot of people might want Costa dead because as a tough criminal prosecutor over the years, she had put many bad guys behind bars. Someone would thirst for her blood.
Evidence becomes elusive to this experienced detective, but with agility and investigative adroitness, he keeps going. Chasing a wild goose isn't an option for him. Long interviews and tons of statements on his desk still leave many questions unanswered. The list of suspects all have one thing in common - to prove themselves innocent at all costs. Knight won't stop until the killer is found.
As the action climaxes, a sinister battle of guns and hiding ensues with the tempo rising high with this signature statement, “You see Judge, it's your fault. You had a position of power, and you didn't take it seriously. You let the guilty go free and threw the innocent in prison. Well, your actions have consequences, you see. Not just for you. I didn't want to kill that cop, but you had to be selfish and let him into your house. His blood is on your hands. And your blood is on mine." Ultimately, it is blood revenge for him or nothing!
It is often laborious to create original story-lines and well-fleshed out characters who are as engaging as the ones displayed in Do Nothing. Griffin has easily managed to do both. He expertly creates sweat-inducing tension throughout the chapters making this novel enthralling to the end. The novel has a good sense of action, mystery, crime, suspense, language, and detail. The book cover and title are both intriguing and interesting and the events therein are quite breathtaking, to say the least.
Quill says: Do Nothing by Miguel Angel Hernandez Jr. is a short and fast-paced literary gem that manages to leave its readers thirsting for more. The plot is cinematic and truly feels like a 3D movie, the language so coherent and rich, making this book come out as one of the best quick reads on the market today.

#BookReview of Power's Garden by Dianne Ebertt Beeaff

Power's Garden

By: Dianne Ebertt Beeaff
Publisher: Hawkmoon Publications
Publication Date: January 2021
ISBN: 978-0965618823
Reviewed by: Barbara Bamberger Scott
Review Date: October 29, 2022
Award-winning author Dianne Ebert Beeaff has constructed a powerful piece of imaginative history focusing on the animosity between Mormon families settling in the southwest in the late 19th-early 20th centuries, unwelcome and often embroiled in serious conflict with local groups. Here the light of revelation is both universal and personal, centering on the perspectives of two powerful females.
Malvina, known as Mellie, is a young woman required to help with other family members, most especially her grandfather Noah, or Father Beecham, who is regarded as their leader by the Mormon adherents in Graham County, Arizona. Mellie has called on the services of someone Noah would at first refer to as “Texas riffraff” – Duett, a local girl who, Mellie believes, has a calm and efficient manner that will suit the household well. Her instinct proves correct as Duett becomes a welcome help to the household, but the wish to soothe family stresses will not be successful even so.
The Beechams seem always to be at odds with the Texan Brennicks, even though their cooperation could greatly improve conditions in the county in times of strife, which, in Beeaff’’s action-filled saga, will include not only nature’s challenges at home but a world war raging in Europe. That international uproar will cause the family’s young men to be called, or to enlist, one of them Nephi, inwardly guided by unique Mormon spirits, the Nephites. Another soldier, Ephraim, home on leave, will assault Mellie, and be fortuitously fought off by Lyman, a photographer and strong ally to the clan. The attack will spark repercussions that spread to include family secrets that Mellie, with the spirited assistance and support of the vivacious Duett, will be shocked to uncover and forced to live with, even as she acknowledges the sins of those closest to her.
Told with astute attention to the smallest details of Texas accent and Mormon lore, Beeaff’s novel is based around one historical incident – a manhunt that took place in the book’s setting, in 1918. She has deftly drawn her characters into connection with that event, and in doing so creates a climax welded with condemnation, confession, and finally, frank and much needed confrontation. The story is complicated, ever on the move, offering tiny clues for the reader’s engagement tucked into a large landscape of turf wars, national sentiments, women’s push for suffrage, and the strictures of an extremely tight-knit extended family burdened, some would say, by unconventional religious beliefs. Beeaff is, like one of her protagonists, a graphic artist as well as a poet and noted author of both fiction and nonfiction.
Quill says: Writer Beeaff’s latest offering will doubtless attract a large readership to this twisted, tormented tale of love and loss, women’s aspirations, and the triumph over cold doctrine and falsehoods of good will, grit, and human hope.
For more information on Power's Garden, please visit the author's website at:

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Meet Author Robb Grindstaff, author of Slade

Meet author Robb Grindstaff, author of the new book Slade, in his new author bio page at:

#AuthorInterview with Robb Grindstaff, author of Slade

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Kathy Stickles is talking with Robb Grindstaff, author of Slade.
FQ: I really enjoyed the way Slade is written. It was unique and refreshing. Can you tell us where the idea for writing it as a series of interviews came from? Did you know this was how you were going to set it up when you first began imagining Slade and his life?
GRINDSTAFF: I’m one of those folks who can lie down and fall asleep within minutes. Almost instantly. Really irritates my wife, who’s more the toss-and-turn-for-an-hour type. But one night, three in the morning, I’m still lying awake in bed. I couldn’t get this character out of my head. I finally got up and started writing.
Years ago, I learned a technique that I’ve passed on to clients of mine (I’m also a fiction editor) where you interview your characters to learn more about them, what their background is, what makes them tick. It’s not intended to be part of the novel you’re writing, just a method to get to know them inside-out as three-dimensional characters. You will uncover bits that might need to be included in your story, but mostly it helps inform your writing, helping to create better, more realistic characters for your novel.
So, I started interviewing this character, Slade. The interview led to more interviews. Slade would mention a character, so I’d interview that character. That interview would raise more questions that I needed to go back and ask Slade. And so on.
Eventually, the interviews started to feel like they could hold up as a novel.
FQ: Are any of the characters in the novel people that you know from your own life or is everyone a product of imagination?

GRINDSTAFF: I never base a character on an actual person from real life. And yet, I assume every character includes parts of several real people, perhaps including myself. An amalgamation of lots of people. Or just a re-imagining of human nature in a totally fictional character.
Sometimes, I’ll write a wholly imaginary character, totally fabricated from the creative recesses of my brain, and then later I’ll recognize bits and pieces of real people. But I don’t think of a real person – someone I know personally or some famous celebrity – and decide to create a fictional character based on that person.
There’s actually one exception to this in Slade, however. As I interviewed the characters initially, the interviewer was me, of course. That wasn’t planned to make it into the novel. But as I turned the collection of interviews into a novel, “The Interviewer” had no name. Nothing is known about him. He’s just there asking questions. The story is totally focused on the characters and their answers.
I thought “The Interviewer” needed a name, so purely as a placeholder, I inserted my name. Then it just stuck. It seemed like it worked somehow, adding some illusion of reality to a work of fiction. I appear as a key character in my own novel. Feels a bit like Alfred Hitchcock or M. Night Shyamalan making cameo appearances in their own movies.
FQ: There are numerous different opinions in the interviews regarding religion and how it is a part of each character’s life. Do you relate more personally to one particular character’s beliefs or are your own beliefs not a part of the story?
GRINDSTAFF: The two main characters, Slade and his wife Annie, have very different belief systems, yet they reconcile many of their thoughts and ideas. I can relate to both of them in one aspect or another. I have my personal faith and beliefs, but I understand that everyone has a different take. I can have more than one take on any given day. At my core, I’m probably more Annie in my faith, but my rational, analytical side can completely agree with Slade at the same time, and I don’t see any conflict between the two. Then there’s Annie’s parents, with completely different thoughts on religion.
FQ: The characters are each so well-developed and different. Do you have a particular favorite in the story who was easier to write than the others?
GRINDSTAFF: I have to say Slade was my favorite since he’s the main character. He was so interesting to interview, so complex and yet so open about everything. But I was also very drawn to Annie. She was even more complex, but she was very guarded. There’s a lot I still don’t know about her. In interviews, she rarely let her guard down and carefully chose what to reveal and what not to reveal.
And no, I don’t do sequels.
I mostly write what is probably categorized as contemporary southern literature, so characters are always front and center in everything I write. They are truly on stage in the spotlight in Slade.
FQ: I saw in your bio that your background is in journalism. How does that help or hinder the process of writing fiction? Which is easier to get on paper?
GRINDSTAFF: Yes, I spent my career in the newspaper and news media business, from small community newspapers to large corporate chains to international publications. I started as a reporter and an editor but spent the bulk of my career in management and executive roles.
Think of some of the top fiction writers of all time who started in journalism: Ernest Hemingway, Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, for starters. Many of today’s top fiction writers started in journalism.
Journalism teaches the basics of writing, and teaches to write tight, to convey a story in as few words as possible. It teaches the writer to create a story from start to finish, leading the reader through every step. Journalism teaches you to highlight the important and leave out the unimportant.
There are a lot of differences, but there are key skills from journalism that translate to fiction writing. My journalism background was critical to the interviews that created Slade.
In most cases, a news story is easier to get into words. You do your research, interview people, attend meetings, read documents, then write down the pertinent facts and best quotes, then organize it and write it. You’re dealing with facts. At least you should be.
With fiction, you create everything, starting with nothing but a blank slate and your imagination.
A novel is usually going to be a lot longer than an average news story, and you have a lot more moving parts to keep connected and functioning properly. So many places for a novel to fall apart.
Of course, there are much longer and more complex journalism pieces as well: long-form stories, investigative series, and some that turn into full-scale books (Bob Woodward, for example).
FQ: The book really does leave the reader with one burning question (at least this reader). Is Slade one of the really good guys who wants to help others or is he a manipulative person who is trying to use and brainwash people for money and power? Do you have an opinion on that as the person who created and brought us Slade?
GRINDSTAFF: I pretty much leave that up to the reader to decide. That was partly intentional, and partly because I don’t know the answer. As “The Interviewer,” I tried to remain objective and just present the information for readers to decide.
Isn’t that the way real life really is though? The way real people – even you and me – really are. We’re complex. I like to think I try hard to be a good person, but after a career in journalism and management, it wouldn’t be difficult to find people out there who might not be as kind in their opinions of me.
The character that really intrigued me after I finished writing Slade was his wife, Annie. When I was going through the novel for the third or fourth time, I started noticing things. Little things I didn’t knowingly or intentionally put in. These bits may just be totally innocuous or normal. Or possibly they’re little clues as to who was really manipulating whom. I won’t say any more about this, and again, I don’t know the answer. But there were a few things here and there that made me say, “Hmmm.”
FQ; What process did you as an author have to go through to write this novel in the format you have used? Did you write the “interviews” out of order doing all of one character first or was it written exactly as we read it?
GRINDSTAFF: I interviewed Slade first, but just a couple of short interviews. He’d mention his brother, Matt, so I’d interview Matt next to follow that thread. Then back to Slade to follow up on something Matt mentioned. Then Slade mentioned his wife, Annie, so I had to interview her. The list of characters to interview kept expanding, and each character would reveal something new, so I’d have to go back and interview other characters again to flesh that out.
Pretty soon, I had 25,000 words of character interviews that needed to be turned into a novel. I had no intention of crafting a novel in the format of a series of interviews. This was all just background work. Over the course of writing these interviews, the story gradually unfolded.
I started wondering if a series of interviews could actually work as the novel itself, with each interview peeling back one more layer of the story. Or was I deluding myself? I’d never tried anything like this, didn’t intend to do this, but it felt like it could work. I wrote more interviews, rearranged them, edited, figured out where holes needed filling in or finding interviews that didn’t really need to be included. As I wrote this first draft, I often had no idea where the story was going. I didn’t know what was going to happen next until a character mentioned it.
By the time I had more than 50,000 words of interviews, refined and revised a bit so maybe it could work as a story, I sent it to a handful of friends – some writers, some avid readers, my brutally honest beta team – to see if this could hold up or if it was just a hot mess. Maybe I needed to sit down and rewrite it all into the normal novel structure.
They loved it.
With their excellent input, I revised it several more times. But there was no intent from the start to write it in this format – a “nonstandard storytelling technique,” as my publisher calls it.
I’ve been a fiction editor for fifteen years or more, and I’ve heard all the rules about writing fiction, and taught a lot of those techniques to clients and students. I think Slade breaks them all. There’s virtually no setting, very little description. It’s almost 100 percent dialogue and no narration. And the standard writing advice of “show, don’t tell”? This entire novel is a bunch of characters sitting around talking about events that had taken place in the past. With very few exceptions, it’s all tell, no show. Yet somehow it seems to work.
FQ: What is next for Robb Grindstaff? Will there be another novel and a new set of characters in this format?
GRINDSTAFF: Oh, I sure hope there’s not another novel in this format. This one happened organically, not planned. I don’t think I could pull this off intentionally.
My previous two novels are in standard storytelling styles that readers are accustomed to. My next novel, Turning Trixie, is standard. It’s undergoing the editing process now, scheduled to publish this December. I’m currently writing my next novel, possibly 2024 before it’s published if I’m fortunate, and again, it’s a standard novel format.
I experiment more with techniques and breaking all the rules in my short stories. That way, if it doesn’t work, I didn’t spend months or years on it. Within a day or two, I can see it’s not working and start over or discard the idea. If it does work, maybe I’ve learned something I can use in a novel.
Even in my more standard novels, I like to try different approaches. In my first novel, Hannah’s Voice, for example, the story is told in first person by a young girl who doesn’t speak. I started writing it and immediately thought, “Why did you do this to yourself? You can’t write an entire novel where the first-person protagonist/narrator never talks.”
But I’ve learned over the years that if you work hard enough, long enough, sometimes you get lucky.

#AuthorInterview with Nakia Trader, author of What Do I Do Now? Building a Solid Christian Foundation

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Lily Andrews is talking with Nakia Trader, author of What Do I Do Now?: Building a Solid Christian Foundation.
FQ: Matters to do with faith and spirituality have been discussed deftly in this book. What inspired you to dive so deep into such thoughtful issues?
TRADER: This book was birthed when my friend (and now ministry partner) first gave her heart to the Lord and decided to become a Christian. She had many questions about what she should be doing now that she is a Christian. Many questions (if not all) I had myself in my early walk with the Lord. On my personal journey, many of these questions were not answered initially which caused my faith to falter at times, ultimately causing me to backslide. This was important for me to write because I realized that there are many new and mature Christians who have struggled to know what to do after they decided to walk with Jesus. Similarly, I have experienced Christians who have been saved for years lack the Biblical foundation and understanding of the expectations of God to sustain them through life’s ups and downs. In part, I feel like the church has seen a fallen away of people because they lacked or did not have that solid foundation. As a Christian who has been on both ends of this dilemma, I felt compelled to write this short book to help Christians from both sides to build their trust in God on a secure and lasting foundation.
FQ: Do you want this book to resonate with everyone or a particular demographic?
TRADER: I want this book to resonate with everyone. Although it's geared towards Christians, anyone truly seeking Christ will benefit from this book and hopefully answer some questions they have as well.
FQ: What were the hardest sections of the text to write?
TRADER: I found it particularly difficult to write about what my relationship with my father looked like after I re-dedicated my life back to God. The reason is because I was still healing from the wounds and could not identify what that dynamic was. Even when I was past the editing phases of the book, I remember telling my friend that I wanted to offer some sort of “resolution” or “conclusion” to that dynamic. I think I only added a short sentence or two to give readers insight as to what my relationship with my dad looked like compared to before. The important part was to be very honest with myself and readers….even if that meant that there would be no resolution to give. That part of the book where I shared my story was to highlight the power of my Heavenly Father’s love toward all His children. It was, is , and always will be enough for me and it’s His love that has helped me to love and appreciate my earthly father regardless of the past
FQ: Is there another book you would recommend reading in tandem?
TRADER: The Crucified Life, The Gospel According to God, The Insanity of God, How to Win Friends and Influence, and Absolute Surrender. These books have left imprints in my walk with the Lord whether it was to help me become a more committed follower, encouraged me to step out in faith, become comfortable in the unknown, or try a new approach in dealing with people. Also, after reading, What Do I Do Now? Building a Solid Christian Foundation, I would recommend completing the companion workbook. A Workbook Companion to What Do I Do Now? Building a Solid Christian Foundation is a tool to disciple new believers and facilitate growth. You will find questions, Scriptures, faith challenges and more.
FQ: What did writing this text do to you as a thinker and how did it give you time to reflect on your life journey?
TRADER: Writing the book caused me to reflect a lot on my new life as a Christian and I realized when I became a Christian, I had these same questions but no one to guide me through them. So, I was able to open up and share my story in hopes to help other Christians out there going through the same, and let them know they’re not alone. It took me back to the basics or fundamentals of my walk and things I learned in order to share them with others.
FQ: I love your cover! Please tell us the process of coming up with the book cover.
TRADER: Thank you! We had the cover in mind, it was just getting someone to take the picture basically. We were just looking for a puzzled or lost pose. My friend and ministry partner is on the cover, and it was a process getting her to do it lol. Neither one of us like the limelight lol, but because her becoming a Christian inspired the book, it was only right for her to do it. We took a trip to Silver Lake, a local park here in Dover, Delaware and the rest is history.
FQ: Can you share with us something about the book that is not in the blurb?
TRADER: Simply, I want readers to know that there are many people who can identify in their struggle with knowing their next steps in the faith are. I was saved for maybe 14 years at the time I wrote this book, and I often find myself today going back to these Biblical practices and principles always making sure that as I am building on this foundation, that this foundation is and stays deeply rooted in God’s Word. I want people to fall in love with Jesus through my testimony and avoid the sins and pitfalls in my life. Not to waste time but enjoy the bountiful blessing of knowing the love of God for themselves.
FQ: The title is an attention-getter. How did you come up with it and what would you say is the significance of the title?
Author Nakia Trader
Author Nakia Trader

TRADER: My ministry partner and I had several conversations about our experiences after giving our hearts to the Lord and becoming Christians. One of many similar questions we had was, “we’re saved, now what?” So, we kind of were talking one day, and it just came to us that if she and I felt this way and had similar experiences, how many more Christians have felt or are feeling this way too? So, we sought to help as many people as possible through this book. I want readers of the book to grasp a couple of things. First, it is normal to not know your next steps as a new Christian. It’s a brand-new life – a brand new way of living than our old lives, so it’s okay not to know. Second, it is important to have a Biblical foundation to build on. I see or hear many Christians nowadays that believe wholeheartedly in things that the Bible specifically speaks against, or they don’t practice things which God teaches and commands us to do. So, while it is normal not to have those answers initially, I hope this book will give people an understanding of what is expected from God and the reasons why.
FQ: What advice would you offer to other writers wishing to undertake the creation of a first-person Christian memoir such as you have daringly composed?
TRADER: I would just tell them to be authentic and don’t be afraid to tell your story because it will help others. There are a lot of Christians out that may be going through the same and will benefit from your testimony. So If you feel this is something God is telling you to do, then go for it!
FQ: Do you plan to write more books? If so, do you plan to stick with working to build “a solid Christian foundation” or might you try something different?
TRADER: I am excited about working on a new book with my friend and ministry partner that will help Christians strengthen their faith and trust in God. The premise involves faith. We are all about helping individuals live authentically for God and sometimes we need a little encouragement in that area. I do not know when the next book will be coming out just yet. It is still in its infancy stage. However, I would hope that sometime in 2023, the book will be done or close to it.

#BookReview - Slade by Robb Grindstaff


By: Robb Grindstaff
Published by: Evolved Publishing, LLC
Publication Date: May 2022
ISBN: 978-1622532810
Reviewed By: Kathy Stickles
Review Date: October 25, 2022

This is the story of Slade Bennington, who while trying to take care of his sister thirty years previously, was in a horrific car accident that took the life of his sister and left him alive but severely disabled and disfigured. While the accident could have killed Slade as well, he was spared and took that to mean that his life had a reason for continuing and he needed a new outlook. This is the story of a man who overcame trauma and heartbreak and turned it into a new reason for living. It is also a tragedy that spurned a bestselling novel and a hit movie for the main character.

Moving forward after his recovery, Slade becomes a counselor for others, using his story and the good that came from it (most notably his beautiful wife and three beautiful daughters). Now Slade wants to help others find a path in life that is worth following rather than one that leads to disaster and even more pain. Soon, he becomes a force in the world for some of Hollywood’s most influential people. But as Slade becomes a spiritual leader for so many of these people, we see that this "fame" is something he never wanted and does not always know how to deal with. He simply wanted to tell his story.

This novel is full of very interesting and well-written characters who follow Slade along his journey. Unfortunately, there is one character who does not agree that Slade is a wonderful and powerful force but one who is evil and controlling, and this person spends years plotting revenge. This part of the story leads to a very serious question; is Slade someone to be adored or someone who is brainwashing and manipulating people rather than truly helping? For that answer, every reader will have to decide for themselves.

This is a very interesting and well-written novel that is told to the reader through a very different style. Rather than a regular chapter-by-chapter format, the author writes the entire novel as a series of interviews that Slade’s biographer holds with Slade and many others in his life. These interviews are with people who know Slade well and adore him as well as those who believe he is not as wonderful as others make him sound. The style makes for a very stimulating read that causes the reader to think and make some decisions for themselves. In addition, Grindstaff has a wonderful way of writing that makes the story come through as not only tragic but very witty with a kind of dark humor that leaves the reader almost laughing at various points in the story.

Slade is a novel that is very readable and enjoyable. The main character, Slade, is an unusual protagonist and his story is so well-written that it unfolds for the reader perfectly. In addition, each character in the book has a real purpose to the storyline and they are each well-developed and intriguing.

Quill says: Slade is written in a very unique style that brings a refreshing feel to the story. It is a thought-provoking novel and I recommend it and the unique format in which it is written.

For more information on Slade, please visit the publisher's website at:

#BookReview - Let's Build A Little Train by Julia Richardson

Let's Build A Little Train

By: Julia Richardson
Illustrated by: Ryan O'Rourke
Publication Date: September 9, 2022
ISBN: 978-1534111455
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: October 26, 2022
Trains, trains and more trains - what child doesn't love a good train story? (Adults too!) In Let's Build A Little Train, youngsters will learn a bit about how trains are built and then watch as that train goes "choo, choo, chugga, chugga, choo, choooo" down the rails.
Building a train starts with designing the train...on paper, or rather, with blueprints. We meet an engineer who is designing a train and her "crew" - who help with the building of the train from cutting metal to make the "bogie base" to painters who bring vibrant colors to the locomotive's parts. It's hard work but when it's completed, we get to see lots of cool things such as a "cattle catcher," a cabin for the driver, and even a smoke stack. Once the train is built. the driver climbs into the cabin and shouts "All Aborad!" as the train chugga, chuggas down the tracks.
Let's Build A Little Train is a simple book that is perfect for the very young train enthusiasts. Illustrations are fun and will easily engage readers. The text does use words many children may be unfamiliar with - "bogie," "piston," "coupling," - but all are explained in a two-page back matter spread, along with photographs of each. The book isn't just fun, it's educational too.
Quill says: Young train lovers will love this "behind the scenes" story about building a train and watching it "chugga, chugga" down the tracks.

#BookReview - The River That Wolves Moved

The River That Wolves Moved: A True Tale From Yellowstone

By: Mary Kay Carson
Illustrated by: David Hohn
Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press
Publication Date: September 15, 2022
ISBN: 978-1534111202
Reviewed by: Holly Connors
Review Date: September 25, 2022
Author Mary Kay Carson recounts the true story of how removing wolves from Yellowstone Park impacted not just the wolves, but all the wildlife and plant life in the park in her new book, The River That Wolves Moved.
This true story starts out with a simple statement - "This is the river that wolves moved." But how can wolves move a river?
Wolves, who were hunted to the point of extinction within the park, had been gone from Yellowstone for over 70 years. But they are now making a comeback, thanks to the park reintroducing them to Yellowstone in 1995. Without the wolves for all those years, their primary prey, elk, greatly increased in numbers. And the elk liked to eat willow trees, which they did, to the point that willows decreased in numbers. But that meant that the trees' root systems, which kept riverbanks in check, were missing and the riverbanks started to crumble. It was a domino effect that was never anticipated when wolves were heavily hunted and ceased to exist within the park's boundaries.
Written in the style of This Is The House That Jack Built, The River That Wolves Moved cleverly shows how the removal of just one species can have devastating effects on an entire ecosystem. Mixed in with the recounting of each change in the ecosystem brought on by the removal of the wolves, are "factoids" with additional details about what that change did to the environment. For example, on the page that shows how the riverbank was held in place by the root systems of the willow trees, the factoid explains, "A bank is where river meets land, where water touches dirt. Plant and tree roots grasp the soil, holding riverbanks in place..." Timely in its theme, The River That Wolves Moved would make an excellent addition to school or home libraries where students looking for books to help with research on ecosystem issues would find it a handy aid.
Quill says: The River That Wolves Moved is an educational book full of interesting facts about biodiversity and how the removal of one species can have a devastating impact on the ecosystem.

#BookReview - The Three Canadian Pigs: A Hockey Story

The Three Canadian Pigs: A Hockey Story

By: Jocelyn Watkinson
Illustrated by: Marcus Cutler
Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press
Publication Date: September 2022
ISBN: 978-1534111608
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: October 25, 2022
Hockey fans take note - get ready for an hysterical new take on The Three Little Pigs that will have young sports fans shouting in glee.
Three little Canadian piggies were out enjoying a good scrimmage, but how could they know that Wolf was watching them from behind the bushes? As the friends finished their practice, Wolf jumped out and snarled, "It's cold and I'm hungry..." Oh, oh...
The three little Canadian Pigs dashed off to their snow fort and made faces at Wolf from the safety of the second floor of their fort. But were they safe?
"Little pigs! Little pigs! Let me come in!"
"Not by the pads on our shinny-shin-shins!"
"Then I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll blow your house down!"
"No way! It's the sturdiest snow fort in town!"
But when Wolf enlists the help of his friends to take down the snow fort - Moose and Bear - things don't look good for the pigs. So they decide to settle things the Canadian way...
"Stop!!!!" yelled the pigs as they braved the attack. "We're not gonna take this! We're gonna fight back! Let's settle this fight the Canadian way...a hockey game showdown! Get ready to play!" Will the three little pigs be able to outwit, or outplay, Wolf and his friends?
Great illustrations adding to a fantastical, and wildly fun hockey story will have young hockey fans reading this book over and over. The tale didn't end when the game ended, but rather when all sides came together after the game. It's a good lesson in getting along, wrapped in a super fun hockey game story. If you have young sports fans in your house, check out this book. They'll love it!
Quill says: What a fun new take on a well-known tale! Canadian Pigs are pigs that wolves shouldn't mess with - and children will love cheering for them!

#BookReview - Christmas With Auntie by Helen Foster James

Christmas With Auntie

By: Helen Foster James
Illustrated by: Petra Brown
Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press
Publication Date: September 2022
ISBN: 978-1534111738
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: October 25, 2021
A sweet Christmas tale, wrapped up with beautiful illustrations, awaits readers of the new seasonal children's book, Christmas With Auntie.
The story opens with a bunny family greeting "Auntie," who has come to their home to help prepare for Christmas. There are so many things to do and so much fun to be had:
"Christmas is merry, and we will be too.
Painting and pasting, your auntie and you."
Auntie and her little niece (or nephew - we never learn the little one's name) clearly adore each other and can't curtail their excitement at being together at this special time:
"We go together like ribbons and bows,
holly and jolly, and tickles and toes."
The two bunnies next get busy baking up some Christmas favorites - gingerbread, sweet cookies, and even cake. After the baking is done, it's off to decorate the tree and then enjoy carolers as they sing Christmas tunes. Hugs, cuddles, and family-time fill up the rest of Auntie's visit.
Christmas With Auntie is a simple story, perfect for the very young who are excited about Santa's upcoming visit. It's a nice reminder that the real joy of Christmas is not about presents, but about family, and the special bonds family members share. The illustrations really bring the story to life, with soft colored bunnies, full of expression, as well as tremendous attention to the details of background animals and landscapes. Put it all together and you have the perfect new Christmas story to read to your children each night as they await Santa's visit.
Quill says: Christmas With Auntie is simply a fantastic new Christmas book and has jumped to the top of my list of seasonal favorites.